Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia

David Graeber author

Format:Paperback

Publisher:Penguin Books Ltd

Published:25th Jan '24

£10.99

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Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia cover

'A characteristically radical re-reading of history that places the social and political experiments of pirates at the heart of the European Enlightenment. A brilliant companion volume to the best-selling Dawn of Everything' Amitav Ghosh

The Enlightenment did not begin in Europe. Its true origins lie thousands of miles away on the island of Madagascar, in the late seventeenth century, when it was home to several thousand pirates. This was the Golden Age of Piracy - but it was also, argues anthropologist David Graeber, a brief window of radical democracy, as the pirate settlers attempted to apply the egalitarian principles of their ships to a new society on land.

In this jewel of a book, Graeber offers a way to 'decolonize the Enlightenment', demonstrating how this mixed community experimented with an alternative vision of human freedom, far from that being formulated in the salons and coffee houses of Europe. Its actors were Malagasy women, philosopher kings and escaped slaves, exploring ideas that were ultimately to be put into practice by Western revolutionary regimes a century later.

Pirate Enlightenment playfully dismantles the central myths of the Enlightenment. In their place comes a story about the magic, sea battles, purloined princesses, manhunts, make-believe kingdoms, fraudulent ambassadors, spies, jewel thieves, poisoners and devil worship that lie at the origins of modern freedom.

Chatty, punky, anti-everything catnip... it is good fun. It's about pirates, after all. * Sunday Times *
Engaging ... the chief pleasure of Graeber's writing is not that one always agrees with his arguments about the past. It is rather that, through a series of provocative thought experiments, he repeatedly forces us to reconsider our own ways of living in the present. Whatever happened in 18th-century Madagascar, Pirate Enlightenment implies, we could surely all do with a bit more free-thinking and egalitarianism in our own social, sexual and political arrangements. -- Fara Dabhoiwala * The Guardian *
Open and imaginative... Graeber is writing in a hybrid genre of poetic history, in this sense, but he is also reminding us why such hybridisation is good for us. * New Statesman *
A characteristically radical re-reading of history that places the social and political experiments of pirates at the heart of the European Enlightenment. A brilliant companion volume to the best-selling Dawn of Everything. -- Amitav Ghosh
Feisty, heroic ... a highly original thinker and a wonderful writer. -- Peter Frankopan * New York Times *
A genius... blazingly original, stunningly wide-ranging, impossibly well read. * The Atlantic *
A thinker who revolutionises the way we see the world and helps us reimagine the things we once took for granted. * New Statesman *
PRAISE FOR THE DAWN OF EVERYTHING: Iconoclastic and irreverent ... an exhilarating read. -- David Priestland * The Guardian *
Pacey and potentially revolutionary ... This is more than an argument about the past, it is about the human condition in the present. -- Bryan Appleyard * Sunday Times *
Blazing with iconoclastic rebuttals to conventional wisdom. Full of fresh thinking, it's a pleasure to read and offers a bracing challenge on every page. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * BBC History *
This is not a book. This is an intellectual feast. -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb

ISBN: 9781802061567

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 12mm

Weight: 157g

208 pages